We had the good fortune of connecting with Yi Hsuan Lai and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Yi Hsuan, what inspires you?
I am inspired by walking around in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, strolling in the alleys and industrial areas, and seeing those weird structures from factories. Also, the under-construction site demonstrates the ” in-between ” status; those corners and places present a sense of raw and decaying but also constantly changing. The disposal objects on the street in New York always amaze me; they are like the wounded body that was used by someone intimately now stray on the street.

I am also very much inspired by the friends around me. It is beautiful to see how they use their mediums (ranging from metal, light, building virtual spaces, costumes, painting, social practice, or bread dough with performance) to work on their subjects, manifesting their universe with different personalities; they are caring, open-minded, and thoughtful creatives that influenced me to where I am right now, such as Paul Simon (also called notpaulsimon),Lales Petros, Lexy Ho-Tai, Sammy Bennett, William Chan, and Santina Amato. I felt thankful to find my crowd and inspired with mutual good energy.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

My artistic practice explores the interplay between two and three dimensions, combining straight photography and photographic collages. I incorporate sculptural forms, often using discarded and disposable materials and my own body, to create assemblages for staged photography. Through photography, I give these materials new identities and construct a new realm for them to inhabit.

By using these objects as proxies for the body, I recontextualize the notion of sentient beings within a psychological landscape, seeking to articulate a new relationship with objects and surroundings and as a reflection of my own experiences as an Othered who has felt alienated.

During my time in school, I had the opportunity to experiment with various materials and approaches to photography. I derive great satisfaction from working with tangible materials and crafting something meaningful from mere scraps. In my other projects, I have incorporated handmade elements such as polymer clay sculptures and costumes. I find joy in the transformative power of the camera, as it can elevate seemingly insignificant objects into something entirely different through the act of photographing, framing, cropping and sequencing.

Whenever I fall into the trap of perfectionism or doubt, I remind myself to relinquish control and allow my body to guide me in the creative process. Embracing a sense of play and physical arrangement helps me reconnect with my work. I understand it is a lifelong commitment to artmaking, and growing is not always pleasant. However, it is essential to keep challenging yourself and not always be comfortable staying where you are right now.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

After prioritizing what my friend wants to see in NYC. The following places are my personal spots where I often connect with particular food memories.

For a lovely day out, we will start from Dumbo to sit on the grass close by under the bridge listening to the noise of trains passing by and feeling the bridge shaking. It is nice to walk along the riverside to see the city view. And walk around the neighborhood to Carroll Garden. I like the restaurants around there such as the mussels in Bar Tabac, French dishes in Big Tiny or Italian cuisine in Gersi and “Clover club” for a drink.

And maybe one day we will go visit Pioneer Work in Red Hook and have food from one of the restaurants such as in Redhook Lobster Pound, Hometown Bar-B Que, Red Hook Tavern, and a bloody marry in the Sunny’s.

Or maybe one day we will be sitting in Prospect Park and sharing a plump pie from ”Lady Bird”.

And I will also bring my friends to see galleries in Lower Manhattan. There are so many Asian foods around; I particularly like Vietnamese pho from Pho Bang.

Other places, such as Dia Beacon or Storm King Art Center, will be nice to visit if there is a spare day.

Ultimately, traveling and eating in restaurants in NYC is truly expensive. For a day, I will invite my friend and my roommate to be at our apartment and cook a nice meal for them. It is the most comfortable place to eat and have conversations.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I would like to shout out the visual artist Lucas Blalock. I had a chance to work with him as an artist assistant in the summer of 2019. We were working on his solo exhibition in Museum Kurhaus Kleve in Germany, and I was delighted to see his work process as he worked for a museum-scale exhibition.

Aside from the technical perspectives for productions, I’ve learned from him, his dedication presents a role model for me of what a true artist would be. Those three months greatly impacted me, and I still carry some of his advice and philosophy for art practice whenever I confront my mind block.

The dots and threads of thoughts he shared generously opened my understanding of the art world and further unknotted my fuzzy brain like making a puzzle complete with little steps. He always encourages me to be authentic to my voice; I am forever grateful.

Website: https://www.yihsuanlai.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flaneur_shan/

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/ yihsuan-lai

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.